Plans to cut places available at a Potters Bar primary school a step closer

Oakmere Primary School, Potters Bar. Picture: Danny Loo

Oakmere Primary School in Potters Bar. - Credit: Archant

Plans to reduce the number of places available for new pupils at Potters Bar's Oakmere Primary School are a step closer after being backed by a panel of councillors.

Currently Oakmere can take up to 60 new pupils into its Reception classes.

But according to plans drawn up by education officials, from September 2023 that could drop to 30.

On Wednesday (February 9) the proposals were backed by a meeting of the county council’s education, libraries and lifelong learning cabinet panel.

And they will now recommend to a meeting of the council’s cabinet that the change is implemented next year (2023/4).

According to a report considered by the panel, there was a drop in the number of applications made to the school last year, for admission in September 2021.

And it says forecasts suggest lower demand for places across Potters Bar from 2023 onwards.

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Councillors heard that the reduction in places – said to have the backing of the headteacher and the governing body  – would protect the financial viability of the school.

And it was reported that it would create a ‘better match of places to expected demand’.

The county council has already conducted a period of public consultation on the proposals.

According to a report presented to the meeting there were just two responses to the public consultation – one in favour and one against.

The negative response was said to be from a parent who had suggested that the school should be accepting of as many children as possible.

In addition, there are also plans to reduce the number of places at four further Hertfordshire primary schools.

At the meeting, strategy and policy manager Jayne Abery told panel members that primary numbers across Hertfordshire had plateaued and in some areas were going down significantly.

She said it could be “very very challenging” for schools with just over 30 new pupils – particularly in their infant classes – because it would potentially mean they would have to employ an additional teacher.

And in response to a question, she accepted it was likely that there may be increasing numbers of schools that would ask for their admission numbers to be reduced.

The decision on whether to reduce the number of places at the schools will be taken at a future meeting of the county council’s cabinet.